Punctuation Changes I’d Like to See

Welcome BACK to Amazing Words Wednesday. I took a hiatus for a bit while working on some other projects, but I’m back to walk us through the labyrinth of language to see what we can find.

Today’s post, though, is really about what we would not find. Language and grammar rules are not etched in stone. They can change as need and usage dictates. Now this doesn’t mean that Jane Citizen gets to ignore proper grammar and make up her own rules. The whole point of grammar and punctuation is to facilitate communication, which requires some mutual parameters. Just as we have road rules to make sure we get where we want to go, grammar and punctuation help us achieve our goal of effectively communicating and receiving messages.

But I’ve got a few suggestions for punctuation I’d like to see changed.

Punctuation marks

Drop the spaces between ellipses dots. The standard for using ellipses is to insert spaces between the words and dots, as follows:

“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be . . . we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

Have you noticed that accepted style finally changed to nix the two spaces between sentences in favor of a single space? Scalable fonts allowed better spacing, making the additional space unnecessary.

Likewise, I suggest that the extra spaces between ellipses are unnecessary and a real pain when dealing with line breaks. It would save time and assist formatting to finally drop the spaces between ellipses dots.

Add a comma before “because.” For reasons I have never fully understood, the standard has been to insert a comma before a conjunction in a compound sentence EXCEPT when using the word “because.” So I would write:

“She shirked her duty, but I wasn’t surprised by her laziness.” YET . . .

“She shirked her duty because she was lazy.”

Why is there no comma before “because”? It’s one of those rules that simply doesn’t make sense to me. Grammar works best when it’s consistent, so could we please add a comma before “because”? It would make the rule consistent across the board, alleviating the need for poor explanations for this exception.

(Daily Writing Tips does give suggestions for when to use a comma and when not to.)

Adopt a punctuation mark covering both question and exclamation. How many times have you seen this someone’s writing:

?!

There are times when a question is indeed exclaimed. As in:

“What were you thinking?!”

“You want me to go into the woods where the serial killer is?!”

“You like roaches?!”

You’re really supposed to pick one or the other. If a question is exclaimed, grammar experts say to use the exclamation point, and we’ll all figure out it’s a question. There is a whole other punctuation mark we could use. It’s called the interrobang, and it gets rid of any confusion and that moment of the author wondering just where the line is drawn between questioning and exclaiming. Let’s use it.

Interrobang punctuation mark
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Get rid of the comma with “also” and “too.” This has started to disappear, but it’s still common enough to see a sentence written as “She ordered a piece of cake, too.” It’s grammatically correct to include a comma before the words too and also.

But it’s superfluous. The meaning of the words too and also are so clear as to not be confused with other meanings such that a comma is required to set them off. I simply don’t think we need it.

Now it’s your turn: What do you think of my suggestions? What punctuation changes would you like to see?